Permit denied for human rights march
Tessa Wong, Straits Times, 7 Dec 2010
Police have turned down an application by the Singaporeans For Democracy (SFD) political association for a permit to stage a march on Friday to commemorate International Human Rights Day.
The association, which said it applied for the permit on Nov18, planned to hold the march from Hong Lim Park to Parliament House, less than 1km away.
But the organiser was informed by the police in a letter yesterday that the application was unsuccessful.
The police told The Straits Times last night that the application was turned down because of ‘law and order considerations’. The police are advising the organiser to hold the event at Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park.
The association, registered in February this year, said last night it would appeal against the decision.
The SFD, which seeks to promote democracy among Singaporeans, is led by executive director James Gomez, who works at Monash University in Melbourne as its head of public relations.
Dr Gomez is perhaps best known as one of the Workers’ Party’s candidates in the 2006 general election. He is now a Singapore Democratic Party member.
In earlier comments to The Straits Times, Dr Gomez ruled out holding the march without a permit, saying the SFD would ‘respect the due process’.
Under the Public Order Act, an individual who is denied a permit for a public assembly or procession can appeal to the Minister for Home Affairs within seven days of receiving the decision. It is not known how long this appeal process will take.
The SFD aimed to have 30 people at the march with placards calling for freedom of speech and assembly, and free and fair elections, among other things.
Besides campaigning for human rights, Dr Gomez said another reason for the event was that the Public Order Act – introduced last year – gives citizens the opportunity to march.
‘We are organising this march to exercise our civil and political rights, which is part of our association’s objectives,’ he said. ‘We want to pave the way for more marches, and for more organisations to exercise their right to march.’
Other events planned by non-governmental organisations will continue. These include a film screening on Friday by human rights group Maruah; and a gathering on Sunday by migrant workers’ rights group Transient Workers Count Too.